Monday, January 22, 2007

US active in Somalia?

There's a lot of similarities between the activity in Afghanistan that resulted in the fall of the Taliban, and the current activity in Somalia, where another Islamic fundamentalist regime is being disposed by (more or less) native fighters.

There's almost certainly US help in Somalia that is being unreported. This might be simple logistics or intelligence assistance, or, like in Afghanistan, US special forces military advisors on the ground.

To date, there's been no statement of activity coming from the US, and with the exception of the article linked in the title, no press reports. However, I'd guess that we (the US) is active there, but wonder why there's been no public reports or confirmations, as the presumably US-backed Ethiopians have recorded fast and dramatic success, which naturally would be good "keeping America safe from Islamist terror" press for the Bush team. The only explanations that I can come up with are:

1) the Bush adminstration doesn't want to be viewed as opening a 3rd war zone in addtion to Iraq and Afghanistan. (Or, so much attention is focused on Iraq that no one has the energy/attention to expand to Somalia.)
2) the US 'spooks' operating in Somalia have managed to keep operations largely quiet so far.
3) bi-partisan support has been built in the US to keep the debate centered on Iraq, with both Dems and Reps OK with pre-Taliban Afghanistan-type US assistance.
4) US activities in this part of the world are being kept quiet to minimize potential conflicts with the Chinese, who are apparently trying to gain influence in Eastern Africa.
5) Somalia is such a distant, bass-akwards place that the general public, nor major news agencies don't have the attention or manpower to cover this. (Or, if you're a real cynic, the news agenda is no longer really influenced by large, costly news bureaus, which have been shrunken by corporate cost-cutting at Disney, CBS, etc., and therefore covering events in eastern Africa aren't cost effective versus covering, say, the Jon Benet Ramsay case.

My guess is that the US is active in Somalia, and that we'll hear more about this in the coming days. I don't have a strong feeling about Somalia, but I think the US activity there could help in other parts of the world, as the "bad guys" realize that the quagmire in Iraq is not completely constraining the US foreign policy agenda.

(Speaking of US foreign policy + press, this past week's news from Iran (Ahmadinejad's nuclear stance being tempered - or even rebuked - by other Iranian leaders) indicates that US efforts may be working, at least slightly.)

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With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
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